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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A desegregation of convenience at a Chowan County hospital

In 1965, the hospital where Slade worked was segregated—that is, until white doctors would move a noisy white patient into the black ward. By that time, Slade remembers, segregation was ceasing so the hospital could collect Medicare dollars.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JAMES SLADE:
I can tell you what I do remember. I think this hospital was built with Hill-Burton funds. When I came here, I had no problem getting on the staff, but the black patients were on one ward, and the white patients were on another.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
That was in '65?
JAMES SLADE:
Yes. Let me qualify that a little bit. They didn't stay segregated. If they had a bad patient that cried or hollered all night, you know what ward they went on. One guess! [Laughter]
CATHERINE SLADE:
They really had a wing or end, they weren't on the same ward.
JAMES SLADE:
If they had one of the noisy white patients disturbing people, suddenly integration was OK. [Laughter] I'm not saying they did it every week, but it did occur. But when Medicare came along, that cut it out. Because Medicare would not allow any hospital to segregate on the basis of race if they were going to receive Medicare funds. Hill-Burton might have played into that, too.
CATHERINE SLADE:
Was that when the built the hospital with all private rooms?
JAMES SLADE:
That was in 1970. That was after Medicare.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
So do you remember when Chowan County Hospital completely stopped assigning patients on the basis of race?
JAMES SLADE:
I think it was when Medicare came in, because they needed the money.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
This court case was in '63, and then Medicare was passed in '65, so they came right together.
JAMES SLADE:
I started practicing in '65, but by '66, it had changedߞthat practice was no longer in vogue. [Laughter] And has not been practiced since.